If you haven’t been bombarded with CBD marketing or raves about it from friends, get ready. This extract—which comes from either marijuana or its industrial cousin, hemp—is popping up everywhere. There are CBD capsules, tinctures, and liquids for vaping plus CBD-infused lotions, beauty products, snacks, coffee, and even vaginal suppositories. Already some 1,000 brands of CBD products are available in stores—and online in states that don’t have lenient cannabis laws. This is a tiny fraction of what’s to come: The CBD market is poised to exceed $22 billion by 2022, per the Chicago-based research firm Brightfield Group.
Of course, there is a different side to the story also. It is true that the studies concluded so far have their limitations, and there is no saying what effects supplementation with CBD for more than 6 months could have. However, they suggest cannabidiol has the potential for treating some mental disorders, like anxiety and depression, seizure disorders like epilepsy, insomnia, and chronic pain.
Pharmacology published a study in 2016 looking at medical marijuana for migraines, specifically in relation to its effects on serotonin, with very positive results. You’ll notice that neither study looked at CBD in isolation from other cannabinoids (which is an issue with a lot of research on CBD and pain). Truthfully, the research on CBD alone just isn’t sufficient to make any pronouncements about its effects on headache pain.
CBD hemp oil has a huge range of potential health benefits and uses, including reducing pain, soothing anxiety, fighting chronic diseases, improving mood, eliminating depression, preventing inflammatory arthritis, protecting the immune system, balancing the metabolism, aiding sleep disorders, and healing the skin, among others. CBD oil can also be used in many different ways and has a variety of applications for natural health.
The most commonly used form of CBD is CBD oil. Combining CBD extract with a carrier oil like coconut oil, it can be ingested or vaped, bringing a lot of variety. But because marijuana legalization is in such a murky situation with both federal and state laws to grapple with, CBD oil's legality can be hard to parse depending on where you are. Let's start with legality at the federal level.
There’s a growing consensus that cannabis is a highly effective treatment for many kinds of neuropathic pain. A 2015 study published in Neurotherapeutics states, “Clinical studies largely affirm that neuropathic pain patients derive benefits from cannabinoid treatment.” But much of the human-based research (like this study) on CBD and nerve pain has centered around the efficacy of the FDA-approved medication Sativex, which includes both THC and CBD. Research on the best CBD for pain isolated from THC is still limited when it comes to neuropathic pain. There are exceptions, though:
Under federal law, cannabis (from which both CBD and marijuana are derived) is illegal everywhere, although the laws against it aren’t generally enforced in states that have legalized marijuana. Some manufacturers claim that CBD culled from legally imported industrial hemp, which has little to no THC, is fine to ship across the U.S., but many experts disagree, noting that because hemp comes from the same species as marijuana, cannabis sativa, all CBD falls under the DEA’s Schedule 1 designation. “This creative interpretation of the law runs afoul of reality,” says the Brookings Institution, a Washington, DC, think tank.
For decades, laws had grouped hemp and marijuana in the same category, conflating both plants and confusing the public. All of this changed in 2018 with the passing of the Agriculture Improvement Act. Also known as the 2018 Farm Bill, the new legislation removed hemp from the federal definition of marijuana and reclassified it as an industrial commodity. In other words, the bill made hemp legal at the federal level and established it is to be regulated by The Department of Agriculture rather than the Drug Enforcement Agency. As a result of the bill, hemp and hemp-derived products are completely legal nationwide, though individual states may still impose minor restrictions.
There is a strong sedative quality to CBD hemp oil, making it a popular remedy for people with insomnia, sleeplessness, interrupted sleep, post-traumatic stress disorder, restless leg disorder, and other night-time issues. Dr. Scott Shannon, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, USA, published a report in the Permanete Journal, in which he recommended either inhaling a small amount of CBD oil, applying it to one’s chest, or even putting a few drops on one’s pillow to help get a good night’s sleep.
Several weeks after a hysterectomy last spring, Bo Roth was suffering from exhaustion and pain that kept her on the couch much of the day. The 58-year-old Seattle speech coach didn’t want to take opioid pain-killers, but Tylenol wasn’t helping enough. Roth was intrigued when women in her online chat group enthused about a cannabis-derived oil called cannabidiol (CBD) that they said relieved pain without making them high. So Roth, who hadn’t smoked weed since college but lived in a state where cannabis was legal, walked into a dispensary and bought a CBD tincture.
There’s no definite amount that’s appropriate for everyone, but the ratio of CBD to THC will indicate how psychoactive the product is and if it’s legal in your state. The more CBD compared with THC, the less of a high, and vice versa. “Managing psychoactivity is key to successful cannabis therapy,” says Lee. “Amounts should be made clear on the label and lab-certified so people know what’s helping them and what’s not.”
Wyoming has a particularly narrow law for CBD oil. It is only legal for patients with epilepsy that has not responded to other treatments. Neurologists have to give the state's Department of Health a statement about how the patient needs and would benefit from the CBD, made from hemp extract, and then the patient may be able to receive a card that allows them to receive cannabis with high concentrations of CBD and trace amounts of THC.
February of 2017, a Hawaii government committee passed a bill to decriminalize industrial hemp, removed it from the state’s list of controlled substances and excludes growing, possession, processing and the sale of industrial hemp from civil and criminal penalties. No license is needed to grow and the crop is treated as other plants such as tomatoes, fruits, and other vegetables.
CBD is a compound found in the hemp plant, also known as Cannabis Sativa L. CBD products that are available on the market, such as Green Roads products, are made from industrial hemp. The main difference between hemp and industrial hemp is that the latter has Non-Detectable THC. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a psychotropic chemical found in cannabis. The CBD products available to all customers in the U.S. contain very small amounts of THC.